Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Nice People Trying Hard

After being awake past 2 am worrying about the problems in skilled nursing, I woke at 7 am, worried some more, and updated a schedule of care for Mom that I had written two years ago. It details her care needs throughout the day: how to dress her, when to put her in her recliner to rest, how to manage her false teeth, when she likes to go to bed, etc.
I made four copies and took them with me to my 10 am intake meeting with Linda Wesley, the director of social services; Ginny, the resident council coordinator, and Rosa Avila, the activities director.
Before the meeting, I went to check on Mom and found her sitting in the dining room eating breakfast without her teeth in her mouth.
I took the teeth to the dining room, discreetly put them in, and went to the nurses station to report the problem to Linda in a less-than-friendly voice.
Then we went to the intake meeting, where I apologized to Linda for my angry tone a few minutes earlier. Linda is a really kind person, small and slender with blue eyes and blonde kinky hair (a bit of African-American blood). What a hard job she has!
The meeting was lively and friendly.
It was performance art: I explained what Lewy Body Dementia is, discussed the sleepy day Mom had on Tuesday, outlined her care needs using the schedule I passed out.
I explained that her bathroom is not currently wheelchair accessible; it has no bar in an accessible place near the toilet for her to grab while someone removes her pants and nylons.
I described the horrible toileting scene I had witnessed the night before.
I set a boundary: because of my concerns about toileting and personal care such as teeth, I will research other care facilities such as Berkeley East and if necessary move her when the Medicare benefit ends after twenty days.
Rosa described her plans for Cinco de Mayo (to be held on May 19): a mariachi band in the patio area with a fiesta. It sounded great.
In addition to the presence of a doctor from Mom's geriatric practice, this place offers beauty: a lovely large shaded patio area adjoining the dining rooms and flowers, landscaping all around. All the residents are in ground-level rooms (safe exit in case of a fire or earthquake).
The meeting ended amicably, and I left feeling optimistic.
Within a half hour Francisco the handyman had removed the short bar in the corner behind the toilet and replaced it with a nice long bar that Mom could hold onto before and after being placed on the toilet. He also removed the huge industrial chrome toilet paper dispenser in order to have space for the bar (but didn't put in a normal toilet paper holder).
"That was so fast! Thank you," I told both him and Linda, who had ordered it.
I took Mom to the dining room for lunch and then pushed her around the block in the bright sunshine. The flowers in all the yards were beautiful. We picked a few marguerites and two white roses (abundant enough that it seemed okay).
I left at 4 pm, did a few errands, and returned at 6:15 to brush her teeth, toilet her, and change her to her nightgown.
After that I put chicken in the oven for John and me and rushed late to my 7:30 Al-Anon meeting, where I reported that I had moved my mother into skilled nursing.
I was feeling optimistic: this nursing home thing would work out if I watched the staff like a hawk.
Another Al-Anon member commiserated with me afterward about how hard it was to put his mother in skilled nursing for the last two months of her life.
I knew I had broken the Al-Anon rule, "Take care of yourself." I had not taken time to eat a proper breakfast, lunch, or dinner--just drinking milk and orange juice in the car while eating matzohs and oranges.
But the day ended with hope that everything would work out at Country Villa Mar Vista.

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